Friday, April 20, 2007

Depression on Campus


Given Cho-Seung-blah-blah's recent 32-person-killing-rampage at VA Tech, I started thinking about my own miserable feelings upon my first 2-or-so-years at the University of Texas in 1983.

While I stopped studying for 5 hours a night and began partying after the first three months to relieve the stress and fit in, I was also so depressed about a girl back home that I was hating almost every moment there. There'd be dorm-conversations about "what part of boys' bodies do you like best"---I didn't give a fuck about their wrists or their eyes. There was no one there that I could talk to about wanting this girl and being deeply depressed about not being able to be with her...In my sophomore year when a friend from high school called me up at my dorm and wanted to hang out---I could barely speak to him, I was so depressed about wanting her and the fact that she'd stopped calling me. He had always been a perfectly nice guy that I'd liked a lot in high school, but in the mental state I was in, I could barely be civil. No, I didn't get together to hang out. To this day, I regret my rudeness to him.

Another college campus regret is that I was never a member of the paper staff. I'd been Editor of the school paper in high school and loved writing, the deadlines, the pseudo-excitment (really, how exciting can high-school journalism get)... When I tried out for the paper staff in college, it wasn't really a try-out... you wrote one thing, and then some bitchy guy critiqued it and told you how your writing basically sucked. At 41, I'd say "fuck you," but at 18, those sarcastic "older"-boy fuck-wads scared me. I didn't have the guts/balls to keep on, despite the asshole critiques.

Today, I have a 4-year-old nephew, who's the best, most sensitive and funny kid...Before I moved to NYC, I loved talking to him and being around him, and I was his favorite---he'd always want me to sit by him and he'd listen to me before he listened to his mom and dad... I don't know how to keep him from ever being scared other than to tell him to fucking FIGHT the assholes... That's not quite right, but he's got to.

I felt scared most of the time I was in college. (Finally, after a few years' off, I got stronger and I decided I'd get "over it" and just finish the hell up with my BA, without trying to "feel" anything...but in the first years, it felt awful. I don't know how kids do it, unless they're 100% supported, both financially and mentally, by their parents and frats/sororities.) Back in the actual day, though, when I WAS trying to "feel" things: While I liked my writing classes and loved hanging out with fellow writers after class, there was also a lot of ugly stuff...like one campus parade, I forget the occasion. I stood by the sidelines of the main drag, Guadalupe, gearing up for some spiritedness... Then one frat boy next to me, referring to a gay-themed float on the drag, laughed to his buddies and said, "Look at those fuckin' faggots." This was in the mid-'80s; I wasn't out of the closet yet myself; that guy made me feel sick to my stomach. And I didn't feel I could do anything about it. Today, in 2007, at 41, I'd tell that idiotic motherfucker to go to hell. At the time, I was scared of him, and he made me feel like shit, and made me hate who I was and where I was.

Nowadays, I give the hook'em sign and am proud of being a University of Texas grad. Because I struggled for it. It sure as hell didn't come easy. And I certainly don't "bleed orange" as I've heard many UT grads say. (I always wonder about people actually that blindly gung-ho about anything...including Joan Crawford. You've got to be an idiot to see things in such utterly black-and-white---or burnt orange---terms.)

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